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Obituary: Shelley McEwen Dahl

Shelley McEwen Dahl obituary

Published on September 15, 2017 9:06AM

Shelley Dahl

Shelley Dahl


Sept. 27, 1952 — Aug. 3, 2017

Shelley Dahl died on Aug. 3, 2017 at her home in Seattle, Washington, surrounded by a few of her favorite things: family, friends, music, flowers and champagne.

Born Sept. 27, 1952, to Margaret Mary Jane Hawkins and Donald McEwen in Pendleton, Oregon, she graduated from Rogers High School in Spokane, Washington, attended Washington State University for one year, and transferred to the University of Washington, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in business administration in 1974. With her vivacious love for life and energetic spirit, Shelley landed a job as a flight attendant at TWA, based out of New York City, before returning to Seattle to become the administrative assistant to the president of SeaFirst Bank. She was married for 25 years while becoming the loving and joyful mother to two boys, Adam and Hunter.

Shelley is known for her involvement at the Women’s University Club (WUC), where she served as trustee for Music, Dance and Games and was beloved for her peacemaking skills, administrative skills and organizational wizardry. She loved being part of the Posting Party and other drama opportunities!

In addition to the creation of Women Who Wear Hats and Ballroom Dancing at the Club, Shelley served on several steering committees, including Membership, House, Long Range Planning, and the Nominating Committee, which selects and oversees the installation of the new trustees and the club president.

Shelley also brought in“The Belle of Amherst,” Maria Glanz’s one-woman show about Emily Dickinson, which was one of the most popular and well-attended performances in the club’s history. Shelley was a vital force in fostering relationships within the board for many years, and created many memories as a fun-loving and instrumental contributor to the many endeavors of the WUC. She will be missed as her creativity, acting debuts and zeal for life made her a wonderful member for many years.

As a member of the Queen Anne Fortnightly, Shelley jumped in whenever needed, offering beautiful touches and elegant flare. She made table centerpieces, presented invigorating speeches about tough topics, and began her term as president in 2017. She was known for her kindness, keen sense of style, and generosity. Shelley will be sorely missed and remembered as one of the brightest stars they’ve known.

One of Shelley’s greatest joys was her service to her church. She was a longtime member, Stephen Minister and ordained ruling elder at University Presbyterian Church. In 2009, she began to serve at the presbytery of Seattle on the Committee on Ministry (COM). In all that she did, Shelley exemplified grace, hospitality, wisdom and a deep abiding faith. She was particularly skilled at working with congregations in crisis, conflict or transition, finding paths to reconciliation that were mutually respectful and ultimately transformational.

Shelley served in several capacities in her role as COM member, including leading examination teams for new or transferring clergy, and more recently as co-moderator of an exceedingly challenging administrative commission. In whatever capacity Shelley was called to serve, she demonstrated a listening heart, a sly sense of humor and a keen intelligence.

Her colleagues were her friends, and she has left an indelible mark on them and the churches of the Seattle Presbytery. Shelley’s theological perspective, study of scripture and relationship with God made her a vital part of change in the church for the inclusion of LGBTQ individuals in marriage, leadership and ordination. Her heart for others, and love for Christ’s people, drove her work and play.

For those who knew Shelley, her life and accomplishments cannot be captured in words. We remember her crazy laugh — accompanied by that electric smile — with head tilted back, gasping for air with delight. Her words were always surrounded by her perfectly clad hot red lips, and her wisdom brought rooms to respectful silence and affirmative head nods.

We hold close her invitations to play at her beautiful home in Cannon Beach with memories of dinners, conversations and walks on the beach. Shelley was loved for that inviting devilish side that was no stranger to the power of a shocking f-word, when necessary. Her home was clad in beautiful bird’s nests, treasured for their intricate synthesis of nature and messy debris.

She loved crows, designer pillows, bright colored slip-ons and her 1970s Vespa. Christmas will be quiet without the Christmas Cookie Exchange she hosted for 38 years, where she shared her Martha Stewart sugar cookie cutouts of crows, lips and Christmas trees she spent days preparing and decorating.

Shelley leaves behind her sons Adam Dahl (Troy Woodworth) and Hunter Dahl, and many friends, colleagues, and pastors who will miss her at their meetings and parties, always arriving in style in her black 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special.

Shelley served God well, and her life will be celebrated at a Memorial Service and Witness to the Resurrection on Sept. 27, 2017, at 10 a.m. at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, with a reception at Women’s University Club beginning at 12 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, Shelley wished for any gifts to be directed to either: the Seattle Presbytery, 1013 Eighth Ave, Seattle, WA 98104; or the Women’s University Club, 1105 Sixth Ave., Seattle, WA 98101.


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